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Online catalogues & databases

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin has a scientific and scholarly infrastructure in place that is of national and international importance. The Staatliche Museen documents and digitizes its collections and thus makes them accessible to a wider public.

By bringing into effect its Digitization Strategy, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin has pledged to focus its energies on the digital capture of the hundreds of thousands of objects in its care. As digital images, they can be suitably viewed and studied by the general public as well as by specialists. In addition to the digitization of its objects (pictures, sculptures, books, sound recordings, photographs and much more), all reference systems, such as library catalogues, archival finding aids, etc. used by the various collections and institutes are being made accessible via the Internet.

SMB Digital, the online database for the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s collections and the Musikinstrumenten-Museum at the Staatliche Institut für Musikforschung, was first launched in 2011. The aim is to create a multimedia, comprehensive online resource for researching any of the collections’ approximately 5 million artistic, cultural, and archaeological artefacts in all their variety. The database also includes archival material and audio files, although it excludes books already available online via OPAC. SMB Digital also provides access to objects that are either not included in the permanent exhibitions or cannot be displayed for conservation reasons.

Nearly 180,000 works from the 17 collections of the SMB and the Musikinstrumenten-Museum at the SIM are currently available to view at SMB Digital. The collections’ museum documentation system, which has a record of every object, serves as the basis for SMB Digital. The direct content feed from the collections’ internal reference system means the information on SMB Digital is constantly updated. The online presentation will be expanded in the next few years to include additional functions.

Objects from the collections are published on SMB Digital with their most important technical information and accompanying images. The online presentation is being continually expanded, not just to include more objects, but also to feature more content about the objects – with work currently underway to add information about provenance. In addition to images of the objects, the resource will also boast audio files, with plans in the future to include 3D models.

Whether your interest is as a specialist researcher or a member of the general public, SMB Digital provides in-depth information about the collections.

The online catalogue SMB-OPAC contains all monographs acquired by the Kunstbibliothek since 1995, all prior and currently subscribed journals and magazines of the library, as well as articles since January 2004. Older titles are being added continuously.

The catalogue also includes all new publications acquired by the special libraries of the following museums and departments since the summer of 2003:

Visitors are welcome to view the collections in the reading rooms of the respective libraries.  

All publications acquired since the summer of 2003 by the reference libraries of the following museums and institutions have also been added to the online catalogue:

Hundreds of objects in the Papyrus Collection have been digitized and entered into the Berlin Papyrus Database. Funded by the German Research Foundation, the project aims to present in an online database digital images and all relevant metadata on all manuscripts composed in Greek and Latin, preserved in the Papyrus Collection.

The Internet database provides all classical scholars and people interested in ancient Egypt access to high-resolution images of original objects along with additional information. Links to other databases allow broader access to ancient Egyptian papyri held in collections around the world.

The database is currently under development. The number of captured objects will rise steadily in the coming months. Once online, the database will be gradually broadened to include other features.

With 8200 recorded objects, the image database provides the first comprehensive visual impression of the bronze antiquities acquired up to 1945, which together form a vital part of the Antikensammlung’s collection.

The digitization of the collection has brought with it many new insights into the original function of certain objects, their acquisition history, and other aspects of their use.The Antikensammlung’s bronzes listed in the 1871 collection catalogue by the archaeologist and former director, Carl Friederichs, have been available online since 2007.

That stock of images has now been expanded to include those bronzes acquired in the period from 1871 to 1945. Both stages of the digitization process were funded by the German Research Foundation. A considerable number of the bronzes vanished from Berlin’s Antikensammlung at the end of the Second World War. Wherever possible, photographs or drawings dating from the prewar era and originally pasted into the inventory books, were used as visual representations of the war losses. Thanks to concessions from our Russian counterparts, it was also possible to view the bronzes currently held at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Digital photographs of these objects are also included in the database.

With some 5500 drawings, gouaches, watercolours, and prints, the entire collection of works on paper by Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781–1841), preserved at the Staatliche Museen’s Kupferstichkabinett, is now accessible in an online catalogue.

While everyone has their own ‘personal’ idea of Schinkel’s legacy – be it as the master builder of Neoclassical Berlin, the creator of the iconic stage sets for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Magic Flute, or the perfecter of the palace landscape in Potsdam – the online catalogue now offers users the chance to form a ‘complete’ picture of Schinkel. The user’s search results can be stored in virtual portfolios, while a zoom function allows details to be magnified. At the click of mouse, background information can be called up on each object, and a comment function is available to help scholars share ideas on the works directly.

The online catalogue was born from ‘Das Erbe Schinkels’ project, which was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and, as a work-in-progress, is due to undergo further technical and editorial revision in the coming months.

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Münzkabinett presides over one of the largest numismatic collections in the world.

Its collection ranges in date from the very beginnings of coinage in the 7th century BC to the euro coins of the 21st century, and covers a geographical area stretching from Finland to South Africa, from Berlin to Buenos Aires. The total holdings of over half a million objects not only include coins and medals, but also banknotes (bills), jettons and chips, seals and signets, as well as coin dies and other historical minting tools.

The interactive catalogue gives users the chance to ‘take home’ not only all objects currently on show in the Münzkabinett’s exhibition rooms in the Bode-Museum, but also a steadily growing number of objects stored in its vaults, so they can view them on the screen, and call up numismatic background information interlinking them.

The project ‘The Berlin Sculpture Network – Contextualisation and Interpretation of Ancient Sculpture’ ran until 2012 and entailed the digital photographing, recording, and cataloguing of some 2000 pieces of ancient sculpture from the Antikensammlung alone plus some 4000 ancient sculpture casts from other Staatliche Museen zu Berlin collections and university collections in Berlin.

The project was a collaboration between with the Freie Universität zu Berlin and the Centre for Digital Archaeology at the University of Cologne’s Archaeological Institute. It aimed to create a historically differentiated reconstruction of the contexts in which the works were originally displayed, and established possible links between the works as to their spatial and functional context. The project was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Its results are published in the form of online catalogues, which went online in the summer of 2013.